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The inter-racial marriage gap that opened in the past 50 years is generally attributed to a decline in the availability of young black marriageable men. We contend that the associated shortage of desirable men in the marriage market provides those black men who are sought after with the opportunity to attain a high status spouse, which has placed a premium on having light skin shade. We provide evidence, based on data drawn from the Multi City Study of Urban Inequality, consistent with this hypothesis for young black women. Our theoretical analysis of the marriage market reveals that policies to increase the desire to marry on the part of young black women will enhance the importance attached to skin shade.